After Fletcher High outbreak, district now tracking virus at Douglas Anderson

Parent says new cases at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts may be linked to dance event

NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – Duval County students had the day off Friday for teacher training, but contact tracing continued after an outbreak at Fletcher High School in Neptune Beach.

The campus was shut down Thursday and will stay closed through at least Monday.

Students at Fletcher High School were told Wednesday that the campus would be shutting down due to a surge of at least 27 new positive cases of COVID-19 identified among students and staff.

Heather Seconder’s family was part of that surge. Seconder, her roommate, and one of her two children that attends Fletcher High School tested positive last Friday.

“I got probably eight phone calls between the school, Department of Health, another department of health, my doctors at Mayo, like, everybody just asking questions,” Seconder said. “They basically just wanted to know when we started having symptoms when we tested positive, who we were in contact with.”

Seconder said when she heard a couple of days later that the whole campus was closing down she wasn’t surprised.

"It definitely it’s a preemptive measure. And I mean, I’m, I’m completely fine with that,” she said.

The Department of Health is now tracking the virus at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts where Amy Hynes-Johnson’s 10th-grade son attends.

She said she believes the new cases at the school likely stem from a weekend dance event at which a visiting choreographer later tested positive.

“Lots of people without masks, you know. We could see them on their Instagram and on their stories, posting pictures, no social distancing," Hynes-Johnson said.

An email from the school’s principal was sent out Friday letting families know about the confirmed cases at the school and that contact tracing is underway.

Hynes-Johnson said the communication should have been much faster.

“I do understand that they’re trying to contact the parents of the impacted children first. But they’re trying to keep it a secret, but it’s really not a secret from teenagers, they know already,” Hynes-Johnson said.

According to the school district’s COVID-19 dashboard, there have been a total of five cases that have impacted Douglas Anderson since Aug. 20. The last new case was reported by the district on Oct. 12, but there is usually a lag between when the cases are reported to the district to when the cases are added to the dashboard.

As health department staff complete that contact tracing at Fletcher High School, they’ll then decide if the school should stay closed past the planned Tuesday reopening.

DCPS uses the 20% exposure threshold when deciding to close an entire campus.

That means if one-in-five students and staff, who are in the brick-and-mortar format, are found to have been exposed, then the whole school will be moved to virtual learning.

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